Introduction: Design Epistemology

Jones, Derek; Plowright, Philip; Bachman, Leonard and Poldma, Tiiu (2016). Introduction: Design Epistemology. In: DRS2016 Proceedings (Lloyd, Peter and Bohemia, Erik eds.), Design Research Society, London, 1 pp. 295–302.




The last 50 years has seen moves towards establishing a sound epistemic basis for design as a knowledge discipline. Despite this, there is still a lack of clarity and penetration of such epistemic studies into pedagogy and practice, as well as little consensus of a foundational structure to the territory of specialized knowledge and knowledge acquisition. This raises the issue that there remains several epistemological ‘big challenges’ across the entire spectrum of design disciplines – or as a generalized design knowledge (Cross, 2013). This theme will explore the current state of design epistemology and pose a range of questions that remain generally unanswered, or incompletely answered. Such questions have to consider the historical underpinnings of design as discipline, leading to the social and political drivers and contexts within which it operates today. At the same time, these questions have to consider the grounded and heuristic nature of design; a fundamentally situated practice whose artifacts still remain under-researched across the discipline. In general terms, a design epistemology as a truly distinct and rigorous knowledge praxis has yet to emerge. At this 50th Design Research Society conference, the Design Epistemology Theme seeks to encourage new discussions across the community to rigorously consider the scope, methods and veracity of design practice, education and research.

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